Rugby World Cup hosts

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The Rugby World Cup host nation is selected by the International Rugby Board (IRB) at a special meeting six years in advance of the tournament. The choice of host nation is a highly anticipated event. The original idea of hosting a Rugby World Cup was brought up by Australia when they floated the idea of hosting such an event for the centenary celebrations of rugby union in Australia.[citation needed]

To date the Rugby World Cup has been hosted by three southern hemisphere nations (Australia and New Zealand in Oceania, and South Africa in Africa), and five nations in Europe (England, France, Wales, Scotland and Ireland). Italy and Argentina are the only "Tier 1" nations that have not hosted a Rugby World Cup.

The first non Tri Nations or Five Nations country to host a Rugby World Cup will be Japan in 2019, after failed bids for the 2011 (awarded to New Zealand) and 2015 (awarded to England) tournaments. The Americas is the only continent that has never been selected to host a tournament.

Current criteria[edit]

The International Rugby Board requires for a country to host a Rugby World Cup, it must possess the necessary facilities. Stadiums must have a capacity at least 15,000, with the stadium for the final having a capacity of at least 60,000. [1] The stadiums have other requirements, such as pitch size and floodlighting.[2]

Host nations[edit]

Tournament # Matches Matches Hosted by Nations
1987 32 New Zealand New Zealand (21)
Australia Australia (11)
1991 32 France France (8)
England England (7)
Wales Wales (7)
Scotland Scotland (5)
Ireland Ireland (5)
1995 32 South Africa South Africa (32)
1999 41 Wales Wales (9)
England England (9)
France France (8)
Scotland Scotland (8)
Ireland Ireland (7)
2003 48 Australia Australia (48)
2007 48 France France (42)
Wales Wales (4)
Scotland Scotland (2)
2011 48 New Zealand New Zealand (48)
Total 1987-2011 -- New Zealand New Zealand (69)
Australia Australia (59)
France France (58)
South Africa South Africa (32)
Wales Wales (20)
England England (16)
Scotland Scotland (15)
Ireland Ireland (12)
2015 48 England England (40)
Wales Wales (8)

1987: New Zealand and Australia[edit]

The first Rugby World Cup was hosted by Australia and New Zealand after the Australian Rugby Union and the New Zealand Rugby Union each independently wrote to the International Rugby Board seeking to conduct a World Cup tournament. The final was played in Auckland, New Zealand at Eden Park and won by New Zealand.

1991: England/Wales/Scotland/Ireland/France[edit]

The 1991 Rugby World Cup final was played in England, while pool and finals games were played all over European nations. Pool A, which England was in, saw matches played mostly in London, though games were also taken to Leicester, Gloucester and Otley. Pool B games, which involved European nations, Scotland and Ireland, had all their games in either Dublin or Edinburgh with one game being played in Belfast. Pool C, which Wales was a part of, had all their games in Cardiff, with two taken to Pontypridd and one played in Llanelli. Pool D, which France were a part of, saw games played in Agen, Bayonne, Béziers and Grenoble. None of the quarter-finals or semi-finals were played in England. The final was played at the Rugby Football Union's Twickenham.

1995: South Africa[edit]

The 1995 World Cup was hosted and won by South Africa. The IRB broke new ground by awarding the tournament to an African nation, making it the first major sporting event ever held on the continent. This was also the first Rugby World Cup to be played entirely in one country.

The tournament will probably be most remembered for two moments—the emergence of Jonah Lomu as a rugby superstar, and the trophy presentation. In one of the most emotional moments in sports history, President Nelson Mandela wore a Springbok jersey and matching baseball cap when presenting the trophy to the team's Afrikaner captain Francois Pienaar. Mandela's jersey had Pienaar's number 6 on the back. The presentation was widely seen as a sign of reconciliation between South Africa's black and white communities.

1999: Wales[edit]

The 1999 World Cup was hosted by Wales with some matches spread across Scotland, England, Ireland and France. The format of the pool games was similar to the 1991 World Cup in England. All Pool A games were held in Scotland, Pool B games in England, Pool C games in France, Pool D games were all held in Wales and Pool 5 games were all held in Ireland. Second round play-offs and the quarter-finals were held a variety of European venues, the semi-finals were held at Twickenham Stadium, London. The third place play-off and the final were held at the new Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

2003: Australia[edit]

The 2003 Cup was intended to be held jointly by Australia and New Zealand, but disagreements between the International Rugby Board and the NZRU, over sponsorship, advertising and ticketing, saw the competition played solely in Australia. This was the first tournament to be won by a team from the northern hemisphere. The 2003 World Cup saw matches played in eleven stadia in ten Australian cities.

2007: France[edit]

2011: New Zealand[edit]

Along with New Zealand, Japan and South Africa had made bids for the tournament. New Zealand won the vote 13 to 8. Some bookmakers initially made Japan the favourite to win the vote, although closer to the decision date the vote was deemed to be too close to call. The early bookmaker reasoning was that it was believed there was a desire to take the Rugby World Cup to a non-traditional rugby nation, and host the event in Asia for the first time. There were also concerns about New Zealand's infrastructure, however an IRB fact finding mission impressed the executives. Despite not winning the right to host the 2011 World Cup, Japan Rugby officials remained optimistic about future opportunities.

In mid-November 2005, the IRB Council announced the awarding of the 2011 Rugby World Cup to New Zealand. It was the first time that hosting rights had been awarded to a nation six years in advance. The voting procedure was managed by a team of independent auditors.[3]

Japan Rugby stated:

2015: England[edit]

The host for the 2015 tournament has been confirmed as England, as they won their bid on 28 July 2009.[5]

2019: Japan[edit]

The host for the 2019 tournament is Japan, who won the right to host the tournament on 28 July 2009.[6]

2023: TBD[edit]

Several countries have declared their interest in hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup, both countries that have already hosted RWC matches, and countries looking to host a tournament for the first time.

South Africa is considered one of the frontrunners to host the 2023 competition, having bid unsuccessfully for the right to host the 2011, 2015, and 2019 tournaments.[7][8] Ireland is expected to formally bid, following the January 2014 establishment of a government taskforce to assess a bid to host the Rugby World Cup. Previous host nations Australia,[9] as well as France,[10] have also expressed interest in hosting again in 2023.

The United States (possibly co-hosting with Canada) is anticipated to bid to host the 2023 and/or 2027 Rugby World Cup.[11] Argentina has also expressed interest, with Argentina's IRB Council representative Agustín Pichot having stated he wants to bring the tournament to Argentina in 2023.[12][13][14] Italy, which lost to England by just three votes on the right to host the 2015 tournament, is also interested in hosting.[15]


  1. ^ "GAA to answer Ireland's call", The Irish News, 23 January 2014.
  2. ^ "Organisers defend 2015 stadium choice", ESPNscrum, 19 October 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2014.
  3. ^ "New Zealand to host RWC 2011". Archived from the original on 6 January 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2006. 
  4. ^ "Information". Archived from the original on 22 May 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2006. 
  5. ^ "England 2015 will be best Rugby World Cup ever, says RFU chief Francis Baron". Daily Telegraph. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "England to host 2015 Rugby World Cup with Japan chosen for 2019". Daily Telegraph. 28 July 2009. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Irish bid to host 2023 Rugby World Cup gathers momentum, The Irish Times, 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  8. ^ "Italy ponder fresh World Cup bid",, 22 October 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Australia in line to host 2023 Rugby World Cup", The Courier-Mail, 16 May 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  10. ^ "UPDATE 1-Rugby-Ireland plans ambitious bid for 2023 World Cup", Reuters, 18 November 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  11. ^ ESPN Scrum, United States eye World Cup bid, Dec. 2, 2011,
  12. ^ Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023, Agustín Pichot reaffirms Argentina´s Quest to host Rugby World Cup 2023 , Dec. 11, 2013,
  13. ^ Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023, Home Page, Dec. 18, 2013,
  14. ^ The Book Depository, Rugby World Cup Argentina 2023, Paul Tait, Nov. 26, 2012,
  15. ^ "Italy ponder fresh World Cup bid",, 22 October 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2014.

External links[edit]